Victor Peñaranda – The Philippines
It is said that perfection is the goal of hu man evolution. Since it is our des tiny to be perfect, it is only reasonable that we become familiar, as we aspire, with aspects of this ultimate condition. We need to have a glimpse of what is in store for us in the future or succeeding life times and know what it means to embark on such a journey.
Let us recall Christ – Christ as a state of being rather than a person. The ideal in the early Christian tradition is to reach a state of One ness with the di vine spirit inherent in each one:
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).”
Having attained this conscious ness, one loses the grand illusion of self-centered ness, and perceives the essence of the truth of having been always with the great All, the absolutely Infinite. Christhood or adept- ship brings full and conscious one ness with the Christ-nature (Atma –Buddhi / Spirit-Soul) in every human being. We actualize our divinity. This interior unification allows the Ascended or Perfected One to share with every hu man being his or her spiritual gifts, as an act of love and out of renewed duty.
In Theosophical literature, one who has attained hu man perfection is called an “Adept,” which corresponds to the arhat of Buddhism, or the rishi of Hind u ism, or the christos-saint in Christianity.
Since being Christ is an inner condition or state of being, it is about transcendence or going beyond the personal ego. It is about the union of the individual conscious ness with the Universal Consciousness (the microcosm and the macrocosm are one). It is about Nirvana in Buddhism or Fana in Islam or Ascension in Christianity – fully awake to our original, divine state.
Treading the Path, therefore, is a journey of unfolding our divinity and a stage-by-stage development of the personality. The goal is integration, but our divine individual ty should master the personality.
What we develop in the journey are inherent faculties, especially of the mind, to contemplate and realize the one pure consciousness. Nirvana or fana is experiencing the bliss of existence, of being absorbed in oneness with the Absolute or being immersed in the Void. We are usually at a loss for words when attempting to describe those moments of illumination when one is drawn to participate in the holiness of what is timeless, or when the God and the God-like fuse into a union of superlatives.
According to Nagarjuna, the ancient Buddhist sage, “When one attains to nirvana, one does not ‘go’ anywhere here, it is one’s perception to ward and attitude about the world and the things in it that have changed. But the causes of one’s samsara no longer exist.” Samsara (the cycle of repeated birth, death, and rebirth) connotes “aim less wandering,” slow progress or without implication to one’s evolution in consciousness. To overcome samsara is to dissolve the misery of being ignorant and to end the suffering caused by egotistic indulgence.
The flower of spirituality in us cannot bloom if we haven ’t mastered the demands of our physical and emotional bodies through a mind illumined by the Buddhi principle, the transcendent faculty of the inner self that transforms suffering into conscience. Helena Blavatsky once said, “Only one inflexible rule has been ever binding upon the neophyte, as it is binding now, the complete subjugation of the lower nature by the higher.”
In the Self-Transformation Seminar of the Theosophical Society, the “Self-Mastery” sessions deal with the purification of the personal self, while the “Transcendence” sessions deal with the discipline of the mind to awaken the higher levels of consciousness. This process of purification from psychological conditionings is a crucial stage in releasing ourselves from physical stress and emotional distress, to be able to enjoy our relationships with people and to recognize what is beautiful in and around us.
To experience beauty in Nature or in other people is to experience a sense of wholeness, of being able to partake in the mystery of the sacred. Taking the Path is an exquisite opportunity to abandon a life engrossed with feeding or defending the ego and to be thankful for recovering the grace in living. Emphasis is given to serious study and cultivating an ethical life. While the divine is latent in us, each one has to work diligently for redemption. According to Annie Besant, “The Spirit cannot manifest in the ignorant or in the immoral man.”
At a certain point, the one who seeks perfection makes a vow to gain enlightenment at the shortest possible time, to be worthy of helping others in gaining enlightenment. Thus, the aspirant chooses to take the Path of Hastened Attainment or the Path of his own Resurrection. Upon gaining perfection, one may decide to forego eternal liberation or ascension from hu man condition. By doing so, the Perfected One makes the supreme choice to reincarnate immediately, to help others recognize the Path and to take the Path. The Perfected One assumes this role without tampering with the duties of those being assisted in dealing with their own karma.
The Christ triumphant is called “savior” by participating in our life, and not by substituting himself or herself for us. Salvation remains an individual choice and eff ort. Those who learn from the Christ perfected acquire the will and wisdom to be liberated or saved.
The curious mind will ask: so how many reincarnations do I have to go through in order to attain perfect ion? The question is valid and may be understood in relation to hum an preoccupation with time. Mahatma Koot Hoomi once gave an answer and this is recorded in The Mahatma Letters: “… one life in each of the seven root races; one life in each of the 49 sub races – or 7x7x7 = 343 and add 7 more. And then a series of lives in offs hoot and branchlet races; making the total the incarnations of man in each station ion or planet 777.” One is awed by these statistics, but we cannot compare what happens in the realm of the timeless with what happens in geologic or historic time. Could a morning dew drop encapsulate a century of recollections? Be sides, what is far more important to us is the present, who and where we are now.
The journey to perfection is in a sense a practice in unity. One learns to identify individual conscious ness with the consciousness of people he or she interacts with every day. It is a process of developing sympathy to empathy, developing the capacity to understand the limitations in others, their fears and failures, their hopes and happiness. It is a process of transcending the not on that we are different and separate from others, that the problems of society are not our problems, or that we have nothing to do with the devastation of the world we live in or with healing it. Only by reflecting on our human condition and contemplating on our divine heritage can we verify the unity of life and engage actively in the interdependence of all existence.
Taking the Path of Hastened Attainment also means quietly and humbly seek ng the spiritual master within, the intuitive voice that comes from the most sacred source, the well spring of what becomes our conscience. It implies a commitment to the study of the Ageless Wisdom and to cultivate life skills leading, possibly, to becoming a pupil of the Mahatma or the Adept.
No one is excluded in taking the Path. The qualifications for initiation into this mystic adventure is enumerated and explained in the booklet, At the Feet of the Master: Discrimination; Desirelessness; Six Points of Right Conduct (Self-control as to the mind; self-control as to action; tolerance; cheerfulness; one-pointedness; confidence) and Love. And of all the qualifications, love is the most important.
Out of love springs the resolve to be concerned and caring, and to will for the happiness of those you care for. It is for this reason that the vow is made not to harm living beings and to be always alert for opportunities to help and heal. It is also love that impels us to serve un conditionally and to rest in contemplation of the Eternal.
The spiritual in each one inevitably translates into acts of service because it is the nature of the inner life to flow outwards, to offer and share. Such actions seek nothing in return.
Goals of service have been ex pressed previously at the historical beginning of the Theosophical Society:
- To minimize the misery in this world
- To forget the self in working with others
- To eliminate selfishness and substitute love as the rule of the world
- To live to the highest that is within’ us
On the Path to perfection, one realizes that social awareness can only be shaped into consensus by those who are self-aware and ready to serve. The sea of social change can effectively be life-giving if drained by rivers of self-transformed individuals.
In tread ng the Path, we learn to make the best of our selves – physically, emotionally, mentally – in whatever situation we are in, not to exalt the future position of perfection, but that we may be worthy today of becoming instruments of goodness or disciples that the Masters can use in their work in this world and in this life.
In a busy or troubled environment, there is usually a greater need or urgency for the individual to find inner peace. When there are persons who live in poverty and helplessness, the challenge is to fulfill their basic needs, so they can turn their attention from mere survival to the spiritual.
The Theosophist who perseveres can help awaken inner potentials and release the spiritual energy of individuals surmount both physical and psychological difficulties, but he or she must first become a worthy aspirant. An important task is to be aware of lucid moments of practical fulfillment. Soonly, the experienced can blend pain, grief, and sorrow in the same mindscape with kindness, beauty, and the joy of existence.
A teacher has said it before: Should one take the Path, do it not for any other reason, but for love…
[This article previously appeared in Oct. – Dec., 2017 issue of The Philippine Theosophist p9/10]